Jamzilla: Work on northbound 405 Freeway proceeding on schedule

Jamzilla: Work on northbound 405 Freeway proceeding on schedule
Workers are repaving northbound lanes of the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass. Three of five lanes are closed during the day. (Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

As drivers coped with a partial highway closure on the first day of Jamzilla on Saturday, construction of a new carpool lane on the northbound 405 Freeway proceeded on schedule and should be completed in time for rush hour Tuesday morning, transportation officials said.

But there is no indication that the paving and stripping will be done ahead of schedule so all the northbound lanes between Sunset and Ventura boulevards can become operational earlier than planned.


The work is part of a $1.1-billion project to build the final 10-mile leg of the 405's northbound carpool lane over the Sepulveda Pass. It includes freeway widenings, rebuilding on- and off-ramps, demolishing and rebuilding three bridges and adding miles of sound walls.

The construction has required three of the five northbound lanes of the 405 to be shut down during the day and all the northbound lanes to be closed at night. Official say the current work is scheduled to last three days and be done at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Jamzilla is the name transportation officials have given the freeway closure. It recalls the full weekend closures of a stretch of the 405 in 2011 and 2012 to enable workers to demolish the Mulholland Bridge. The first of those gave rise to the apocalyptic name Carmageddon, but the Southland survived the loss of drive time relatively unscathed.

On Saturday, traffic moved steadily on the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, but drivers encountered some delays as the freeway narrowed to two lanes through the construction zone.

Although things went well, transportation officials are still warning travelers to avoid the northbound 405 between Sunset and Ventura boulevards, where extensive paving and stripping is being done over the Presidents Day weekend for a new carpool lane.

"It's been 'so far, so good,' but we don't want people to get complacent," said Marc Littman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "We have a lot of work to do this weekend. If the public doesn't stay away, we could have a major traffic backups."

Traffic moved smoothly during the morning hours, when drivers experienced delays of only a few minutes as the freeway narrowed to two lanes between Wilshire and Sunset boulevards. Before noon the delays increased to about 20 minutes, then declined to about 10 minutes by midafternoon.

Once vehicles negotiated the stretch of merging traffic, normal travel speeds resumed, especially past the Mulholland Bridge and down the hill into the San Fernando Valley.

Heavy traffic also caused some delay on the westbound 10 Freeway between La Cienega Boulevard and the closed ramps to the 405. But the California Department of Transportation reported that traffic moved normally on alternative routes, such as the 110, 710 and 5 freeways as well as Sepulveda Boulevard, which parallels the 405.

"It was well-managed," said John Berggren, who added that he was pleasantly surprised after hearing the warnings about lane closures as he drove up from San Diego.

John Barbieri of San Pedro said he took a risk when he headed north on the 405 on Saturday morning to take a load of furniture to his daughter in San Luis Obispo.

After moving at a glacial pace on the Westside for a few minutes, Barbieri reached the two open lanes and quickly accelerated to 45 mph by the time he reached Getty Center Drive.

"I am glad I took the gamble. It would have taken much longer to go through downtown L.A.," he said.